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Monday, September 25, 2006

TSU gets $40M boost from deseg case

Calling it a "shot in the arm," Tennessee State University President Melvin Johnson detailed how the university will spend $40 million from a settlement in a lengthy desegregation case.

The windfall consists of state and federal matching funds and will be disbursed over the next five years, but TSU already has a plan, Johnson said.

"Enrollment is what we strive for," he said. "Enrollment comes when you have high-quality programs."

Along with $30 million that will go to a new TSU Endowment for Educational Excellence, an additional $10 million will be used to implement new programs and enhance existing ones, as well as supplement financial-aid programs.

A majority of the windfall will go to TSU's Avon Williams Campus in downtown Nashville.
Pushing enrollment is vital, Johnson said after the settlement was announced Thursday.

"Welcoming diversity is a big part of increasing enrollment — it's not only a black and white issue, it's gender and age," Johnson said. "We want to be open to everyone. We have to serve the Hispanic community and any other ethnic group."
Johnson said the settlement money gives TSU the resources to grow as it has wanted to grow, not only in curriculum but also in numbers.

The settlement "marks the end of an era and the beginning of new opportunities, not only for Tennessee State University but also for the citizens of this community," Johnson said, adding that TSU wants to be Nashville's public university.
Filed in 1968 by Rita Sanders Geier, a former TSU instructor who challenged racial segregation in the state's higher education system, the lawsuit was ended Thursday morning in federal court.

As a result of the case, TSU has received approximately $200 million over the past 15 years. Most of that money — roughly $127 million — was used for new buildings and renovations at TSU's main campus on John Merritt Drive. About $23.5 million has been used to renovate the Avon Williams Campus.

TSU financial aid programs will use its $5 million piece of the settlement to establish scholarships for nontraditional students and reduce tuition for graduates of the area's community colleges — Nashville State Technical College, Columbia State Community College and Volunteer State Community College.

Another $5 million of the settlement money will be used to pay for new programs and expand existing ones.
As for the $30 million for the Endowment for Educational Excellence, the state contribution consists of about $15 million, supplemented by federal matching funds. •

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